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National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins is questioning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's latest executive order blocking mask mandates at public schools as students prepare to return for the fall semester.
Collins said students should wear masks when they return to school this fall, as the COVID-19 delta variant has gained momentum in virus hot spots across the nation. The director doesn't "understand" DeSantis's order, he said during a Sunday interview on CNN, adding that "this seems like something local officials ought to be able to decide based on their community’s circumstance."
The Florida governor has taken a vehement stance against pandemic mandates of any form and has threatened to withhold funding from schools that violate the executive order signed on Friday.
"I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun," DeSantis said, adding that his order will improve students' experience and make it easier for them to focus on learning.
Collins pushed back against the governor's logic, saying, "Being asked to wear a mask is perhaps not quite the huge challenge [or] burden that sometimes it’s being portrayed. Kids are pretty adaptable."
DeSantis has argued there is no evidence masks prevent outbreaks in schools, which goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines recommending "universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status."
Cases of the coronavirus in Florida spiked 50% during the last week of July, the state Health Department reported shortly after the governor signed the order making mask guidance optional in schools.
In a separate interview with Fox News Sunday, Collins acknowledged that many people in the nation "are frustrated," adding, "It has gotten very political, and people are looking for someone to blame."
"Delta is as contagious as we now know it is, and we want to try to put an end to what is a very significant uptick right now," he added. "Wearing masks, if you're under 12 and can't be vaccinated, when you're [in] school is a really smart thing to do."
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese
Original Location: NIH director doesn't 'understand' DeSantis's optional mask order